Richard Menger, MS, REHS
Baker Lake will remain closed to the public for all recreational activities until the first day of summer and Grand Opening, Friday, June 21, 2019. The reason for this continued closure until that date is multifaceted. There are still several construction phases that must be completed, including completion of boat docks, buoy placements for swimming areas and no-wake zones, 65K-70K aquatic and wetland plantings, further fish plantings, placement of solar aerators and raising the depth of the water to the high-water mark. Unless Baker receives additional precipitation, then the waters of the upper lake, which is full, will be used to maintain the lower lake at capacity after sedimentation of the upper lake waters has occurred.
Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff set five fyke (hoop) nets at South Sandstone Reservoir on April 15, and pulled them on April 16. They emptied the nets daily and transferred yellow perch (2”-10”) and black crappie (8’-10+”) to Baker Lake daily. In total 1,584 yellow perch and 280 black crappie were released into Baker Lake (see picture). This should be adequate for both species considering they were moved pre-spawn. We expect both species to spawn this year; perch within the week and crappie around June 1. Every fish transferred was double sorted by hand at South Sandstone to ensure non-target species (bullhead, pike) were not included.
Five experimental gill nets and five mini fyke nets were also set at Baker Lake April 15, and pulled April 16 (prior to stocking fish from South Sandstone). This was done to evaluate the potential presence of fish species prior to fish stocking by FWP. The only thing caught was 5-6 adult and juvenile tiger salamanders, no fish.
Further plantings of catchable size crappie are expected from both Tongue River Reservoir and South Sandstone Reservoir before mid-July. Four thousand (4K) trout, 8”-10” in length will be stocked before May 1. Again, the Grand Opening of Baker Lake will be on June 21, 2019.